Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands Part 14

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands -

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Two of our men, on the morning of the 19th, lost their lives by a very melancholy accident. They were cutting up a captured ammunition-waggon for firewood, when one of their swords striking against a nail, sent a spark among the powder. When I looked in the direction of the explosion, I saw the two poor fellows about twenty or thirty feet up in the air. On falling to the ground, though lying on their backs or bellies, some extraordinary effort of nature, caused by the agony of the moment, made them spring from that position, five or six times, to the height of eight or ten feet, just as a fish does when thrown on the ground after being newly caught. It was so unlike a scene in real life that it was impossible to witness it without forgetting, for a moment, the horror of their situation.

I ran to the spot along with others, and found that every st.i.tch of clothes had been burnt off, and they were black as ink all over. They were still alive, and told us their names, otherwise we could not have recognized them; and, singular enough, they were able to walk off the ground with a little support, but died shortly after.

Among other officers who fell at Waterloo, we lost one of the wildest youths that ever belonged to the service. He seemed to have a prophetic notion of his approaching end, for he repeatedly told us, in the early part of the morning, that he knew the devil would have him before night. I shall relate one anecdote of him, which occurred while we were in Spain. He went, by chance, to pa.s.s the day with two officers, quartered at a neighbouring village, who happened to be, that day, engaged to dine with the clergyman. Knowing their visitor's mischievous propensities, they were at first afraid to make him one of the party; but, after schooling him into a suitable propriety of behaviour, and exacting a promise of implicit obedience, they, at last, ventured to take him. On their arrival, the ceremony of introduction had just been gone through, and their host seated at an open window, when a favourite cat of his went purring about the young gentleman's boots, who, catching it by the tail, and giving it two or three preparatory swings round his head, sent it flying out at the window where the parson was sitting, who only escaped it by suddenly stooping. The only apology the youngster made for his conduct was, "Egad, I think I astonished that fellow!" but whether it was the cat or the parson he meant I never could learn.

About twelve o'clock, on the day after the battle, we commenced our march for Paris. I shall, therefore, leave my readers at Waterloo, in the hope that, among the many stories of romance to which that and the other celebrated fields gave birth, the foregoing unsophisticated one of an eye-witness may not have been found altogether uninteresting.


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